Monday January 21, 2013
By Karolina Vithen - Account Manager
We are the first people to say that each person in an organisation should be treated as an individual; that it’s the people who will determine the success of a business. When taking a deeper look however, it also has much to do with if, and how, these individuals interact. Do organisations with outstanding teams in place perform better than those with many great individuals working on their own?
Most of us have worked in well aligned teams that made any task feel easy. And of course, we’ve also experienced the opposite, when teamwork is non-existent and everything becomes more complicated and time-consuming. Even if it’s not working, there’s no place to hide, as teamwork is required in most businesses to some extent.
Not long ago I read an interesting and inspiring article about teamwork success stories. The article reviewed the book, Superteams: The secrets of stellar performance from seven legendary teams by Khoi Tu, in which the author used the Rolling Stones as a prime example of perfect teamwork. The iconic rock group have been a well-functioning and fast adapting team for decades. They’ve lived and worked together non-stop for years and shared everything (including girlfriends!) and their hard work has paid off; allowing them to achieve massive global success.
So, how does Tu suggest teams achieve the ‘Superteam’ status like the Stones? In his book he outlined the fundamental basics as (with a little purplising…):
Helps the team to stay together and work together. Delegation is not a problem as everyone in the team knows that all members are pulling their weight.
Set common goals:
It’s important for every single member of the team to know what they are working towards and how it’s going to be done. This is inspiring and will encourage the group to focus on achieving the goal.
Ideally, you want a team of leaders where everyone is thinking and acting as great leaders do. In reality, however, there is often one leader guiding the rest of the team. The role of this individual should be identifying the strengths and challenges the group has, and knows how to make best use of everyone’s skills. Everyone else, thinking as leaders, should spot opportunities for improvement and offer up their constructive opinion to ensure for effective working.
Open, adult-to-adult communication is important and team members need to know that they can express themselves without repercussions. Each person’s opinion is valued and respected and any issues should be dealt with one to one.
Conflict is positive and keeps momentum towards the goal. Express opinions without emotion and ensure that compromises are reached and challenges dealt with quickly.
Adapt or die:
If you want to succeed then be prepared to move forward and adapt to change. A ‘Superteam’ is always one step ahead of the rest.
The Rolling Stones had all these within their group; they had their leader, they realised they had to get along and put differences aside for the good of the group and they had a common goal.They also trusted each other implicitly and knew everyone would do their bit. It worked in their heyday and 50 years after they first formed, it’s still working today.
Another success story that reflects the above is how the late Steve Jobs (CEO of Pixar at the time) encouraged cooperation, teamwork and open conversations between all levels of employees and is cited as saving the company. Jobs purchased an abandoned Del Monte canning factory for the new offices of Pixar and the first architectural plan was to have three different buildings. One for the computer scientists, one for the animators and one for the Pixar Executives. It was quickly realised that nothing was going to be done and no-one would collaborate if these teams were separated. He believed that everyday personal interactions fuel successful teams and workplaces and so changed the structure of the architectural plan and created one single open space with an area in the middle for people to interact and always run in to each other. His philosophy ‘when people run in to each other and make eye contact, things happen’ worked in this case and secured Pixar’s future with Toy Story in 1995.
What are you doing to create ‘Superteams’ in your business?